Several years back I was invited by my sister to Girly Weekend. This was an annual trip started by her best friend and another friend who were the core of the group. I really didn’t want to go but my sister played the sister card, “I won’t go unless you go.” So I begrudgingly went, feeling then that I really don’t have time for yet another activity, especially one that involves being away for several days.
Girly Weekend has evolved into Girly Week (5 days instead of 3) and I am so happy to be a part of it. All 6 of us are busy women, most of us mothers of various aged children, and with job and community commitments. It is seemingly irrational to even schedule such a getaway given how busy we all are. But amazingly, just putting it on the calendar makes it happen each year. It has become a priority. That is probably the most important part of the process – just doing it. And we are very diverse in personalities. Yet by forcing ourselves to shake up the daily routine in such a dramatic way, we all come back changed for the better.
A key element is to leave the drama behind. It’s an unspoken understanding. As family and job anxieties creep in, however, as they inevitably do during the week, each of us is there to remind the recipient of the challenge to relax, it will be fine, you’ve left capable people in charge, they can live without you for a few days. Though the usual stresses are compounded by the anxiety of giving control to others in our absence, the support of our “sisters” and change of environment arm us with tools to relieve the anxiety about our being away as well as the stress we can tend to fall victim to when we’re back home living it.
I was even emboldened to tell the DOL auditor on one of my cases, who himself works nights and weekends, that I’ll answer his questions on Friday when I return. Amazingly, even he said have a nice time and we’ll talk then. So often we just assume we must do certain things at certain times and in certain ways and become anxious when we don’t perform as expected. With a fresh perspective and friends and family support, we are able to step outside of our often self-created expectations which can set us up for failure (since we’re not perfect), needless stress, and anxiety.
Moving outside of our comfort zones also grows us in ways that we don’t anticipate and gives us tools to live life more deeply. Even though I love the ocean and we live right next to it, I do not go into it (unless I’m in a boat or kayak.) I’m not a good swimmer and I hate cold water. So here we are in FL with amazing warm surf. So I did it. With a death grip on one of the lady’s hands I went out and played in the surf up to (and sometimes over) my head! I even eventually let go of her hand! Not only did I absolutely love it, but overcoming my fear has changed me – I am a stronger person than when I left home. My self defining limitations have been lifted, at least in this area. And when we remove self limits in seemingly small ways, our spirits become stronger to overcome fears and negative self talk in other areas that hold us back from all that HaShem has made available to enrich life’s journey.
So many times along the way we have opportunities to move beyond our status quo, beyond our negativity and anxieties, to de-stress. When we appropriately prioritize our life journey, we become closer to the created beings we were intended to be. You do not have to schedule a trip away from home to do this. Perhaps just a couple hours, an evening, or a weekend with your spouse to double the discoveries. Even busy moms and dads can take some personal time to take a break from the areas in their lives that are causing stress and do something positive. Schedule an outing with your faith centered brothers or sisters and experience something new, perhaps a sport or art or musical instrument you’ve been afraid to try or a hobby to explore. Be willing to let others take over some of your responsibilities to free up a bit of your time. Often we underestimate how much others want to help, how much they can do, and overestimate how indispensable we are. It is a mutual blessing to let go and grow.
Each stage in our life does set some parameters for the amount of time available but often there is more there than we think. When we parent small children even an hour devoted to personal growth sets the trajectory for more time as the years go. You will be a better parent as you de-stress and gain perspective through planning and experiencing self renewal. The same analysis is true for those too tied to the office. Breaks are good.
This week I encourage you to give it a try – let go and grow. Our Abba did not limit our potentials when He created us. Rather, the scripts of our lives are co-created with Him. You don’t have to go away to tame your more negative emotions and overcome fear, the root of stress and anxiety. You just have to be willing to accept the challenge, and live.